By Tina Comeau
The Municipality of Argyle is holding an emergency meeting Wednesday, Nov. 7, at 5 p.m. to discuss a complaint that has arisen from the election results of District 5.
While the first 15 minutes or so of the meeting will be held in camera to discuss legal issues, (in other words, closed to the media and the public), because the situation pertains to the recent election the bulk of council’s discussion will be held in public once the legal discussions have been completed.
The election results of District 5 saw candidate Nicole Albright defeat incumbent Malcolm Madden by just two votes. The vote tally following the electronic vote saw Albright with 302 votes and Madden with 300 votes. District 5 encompasses Ste.-Anne du Ruisseau, Eel Brook, Belleville, Bellneck, Springhaven and Quinan.
The issue may end up going before the court and the deadline for filing such an application is Nov. 9, thus the reason for the emergency meeting being called.
“Most of the discussion will be public,” says Argyle CAO Alain Muise. “Basically what council is examining tonight is whether or not it will file to have the courts consider whether the election in District 5 is to be voided based upon a complaint from a candidate regarding a known situation where two individuals voted in the wrong district.”
Muise says the voters voted in District 1, when they should have voted in District 5.
While the person who has made the complaint, in this case it is Madden, is within his right to file the application, says Muise, it could also be filed by the Municipality of Argyle, should it choose to.
“Council tonight will consider whether it considers the situation such that it will file the form itself,” says Muise. The application has to be filed with the Supreme Court.
It’s not the council that decides whether or not the election ought to be voided, that decision is up to the court.
But it is council or anyone resident of Argyle that has the right to file such a claim, says Muise, who adds the discussion by council will also include what the candidate himself intends to do.
“That may factor into the decision,” Muise says. “The candidate has indicated a very strong interest in doing so, which is obviously important information for council to consider. It doesn’t have to make this application, however the information that we collected was sufficient enough for council to consider this as an option.”
The new council has not yet been sworn in. However, Madden will not be seated at the council table, nor will he participate in the in-camera discussion. He self-declared a conflict to Muise verbally prior to the meeting.